InterContinental Budapest

Day 21: Flying from Budapest to Miami

On June 2nd, I flew home from Budapest. Since my Mom had her flight at 6am on KLM and I had mine on Air France at 6:30am, we went to the airport together.

This was a really early morning, so we decided against taking a taxi. Before arriving in Budapest we had contacted the InterContinental about a transfer to the airport. This was easily set up through the concierge at the hotel. A pick-up was set up for 3:45am and only cost HUF 8500, which was the equivalent of $30.50. The transportation was through a company called Elit and the driver was at the hotel well before 3:45. So we were able to leave early and I swear we were at the airport in less than 25 minutes.

When we got to the airport none of the counters were open yet, and I believe they didn’t open until around 4:15am. Since we were flying business, we could use the sky priority line and were able to skip the long line for all other passengers. We then headed to security and this was very simple. We just had to take out iPads and computers, plus our liquid Ziploc bags.

Once through security there is a huge duty-free store at the Budapest airport. Since it was so early in the morning only the duty-free store was open. We then just waited for our flights at our gates, which were luckily right next to each other. My Mom’s flight then started lining up early, so she joined the Sky Priority line to wait for boarding. Once she was on her flight, I then lined up for mine. People line up early for boarding and neither KLM or Air France seemed to board by zones or aisles.

The Air France flight from Budapest to Paris was uneventful. The seats though for business class are actually coach seats, but the middle seat is left empty. This was fine since the business class section was virtually empty for the flight. Air France did serve a meal for the short flight, which included hot croissants, a meat and cheese plate, and a fruit bowl.

My flight then landed on time and I had my long layover in Paris. I then went through passport control and headed to the Air France lounge. This is when I noticed a slight issue and was rather confused, my flight was listed in both terminal 2E and 2F. Well luckily I was in 2E since this was where my flight left from, but no one in the airport was helpful trying to figure out where my flight actually was going to leave from, even the lounge staff were useless on this issue. I probably wouldn’t have found the Charles de Gaulle airport to be so confusing, if the gate and terminal information had been correct. This made for a confusing morning and made me a bit nervous I was in the wrong terminal. Finally it was time to board my flight and at least I was in the correct terminal.

Normally I hear really negative thoughts about Air France, but I was really impressed with the airline and service in business class. I was greeted with French champagne and the service was friendly throughout the flight. Luckily no one sat in the seat next to me on the flight too. During the flight I watched three movies: Gone Girl; The Imitation Game; and Pride. One thing I found really impressive, before people started using the screens the flight attendants stopped by each seat and showed each passenger how to use the system. No other airline have I been on has done this before.

I was served two meals on the flight. The main meal was amazingly good and had good wine as well, which is shocking to say anymore even in business! Air France does serve foie gras as an appetizer, which was a bit impressive, even though it wasn’t my favorite food item. The 2nd meal was served about 2 hours out from Miami during extremely rough turbulence.

I was really impressed with Air France and I would definitely fly with them again. The service was a step above any airline I have flown in the past, both domestic and international.

After disembarking the flight I headed to customs, which was a breeze with Global Entry even with my passport not scanning. I was through customs in less than 5 minutes and it only took about 10 minutes for the suitcases to start coming out. I probably wouldn’t hesitate to fly through Miami again either.

Overall the trip was really good, even with some of the slowpoke tours. I definitely would take a river cruise again, though it would really depend on the itinerary.

Thank you to everyone who followed along for this trip report and for all the positive feedback!

Day 19: Budapest, Hungary – Disembark Viking Baldur

Last Sunday we disembarked the Viking Baldur and then spent 2 nights in Budapest.

Before leaving the Viking Baldur we settled our bill at the front desk. This actually turned out to be easy the final morning since there was no line, unlike the night before. Our bill only turned out to be €12 because we had been given onboard credit. The onboard credit covered all the optional tours we took and most of the drinks we purchased onboard.

Originally the Viking Baldur was supposed to dock right in front of the InterContinental Budapest, and this was what we were told hours before docking as well. The night before we docked still on the same side as the Intercontinental, but on the opposite side of the bridge.

The morning of disembarking it poured before we left the riverboat. This made it a bit difficult to get over to theInterContinental because the way we were going to go was incredibly muddy and the other way involved a big stairwell. One thing that made it easier to get the bags over was because it was a Sunday with little traffic. Luckily Caitlyn (program director) offered one of the crewmembers to at least bring the suitcases up the stairs so we wouldn’t have to go the muddy way. We then lucked out further because the guy offered to take them all the way, since he wanted a break from the boat for a bit. This made it so much easier to get to the hotel. Even though the location of the hotel is convenient to the Viking docking locations, it may not always be the easiest to get to with suitcases.

When we checked into the InterContinental we were given a choice of an upgrade to a suite. We actually passed on this since it meant only 1 bed instead of 2 beds. Instead the hotel included breakfast for two days instead and we could access our room right away. This actually worked out much better for us in the long run. We decided that morning to have breakfast at the hotel, which was the typical European buffet breakfast. One interesting thing is the Intercontinental does have an Asian buffet for breakfast as well.

The view from our hotel room overlooked the Danube, which was fantastic at night.

1525605_10155600169425324_3428416190948561513_n

Today turned out to be slightly not as planned. Originally I wanted to go to the House of Terror Museum, which recognizes the victims of both the Communist and Nazi regime of Hungary. Well we missed out on doing this since we just weren’t in the mood to sightsee much that day. Since we didn’t go, I knew we missed out on going this trip. Most museums in Budapest are closed on Monday’s, with some closed on Tuesday’s.

Instead we just walked around the area near the hotel this day. There are a lot of cafes and shops, but the shops were mostly closed on Sunday. This is actually a relatively new law in Hungary we found out and shops over 200 sqm can’t be open on Sunday’s. Previously shops were open on Sunday in Hungary, but a law was passed this year to change that. Juli, our guide from the day before, mentioned people in Hungary weren’t happy about this changing.

Later in the evening we decided to search for somewhere for dinner. Well even though there are a lot of neat looking cafes and restaurants in the area, virtually most had the same exact menu. I was a little surprised by this and was expecting some variations. So since nothing really appealed on the nearby menus, for example like goose liver, we went somewhere we normally would never go to on vacation, the Hard Rock Café. Surprisingly this was the best service we had at any restaurant the entire time in Budapest. Not really sure why the service here was so good compared to anywhere else, but it was attentive and friendly. So kudos to the Hard Rock for actually having a decent experience!

After dinner we just headed back to the hotel for the evening since we were a bit tired after all the early days the past week had.

11141151_10155600169670324_4561153640873959343_n